A few communications resolutions

RO Communications

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, ABC

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

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LIKE you, I have given up on making New Year's resolutions. They never seem to last very long and before you know it, you and I are right back into the bad habits of the 'old year'.

If I had a dollar for every weight loss or good eating habit resolution I made that was promptly broken on sight of Christmas left-overs, I would be Oprah-wealthy.

But that is not to say we should not try harder because there are definitely some promises to ourselves that should be kept. Not only do they make our lives better but they help to increase the peace and make those around us happier souls. So, here are our communications resolutions for 2013.

Let's see how long we will stick to them and try to make them work.

My first resolution is an easy one. This year I am determined to pay more attention to the effective use of social media. I think by now everyone and their mother should have grasp the fact that this phenomenon we call social media, brought to us courtesy of the world wide web, is not going away.

A recent survey on the use of social media, the first of its kind, done by Ragan/NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions unearthed some answers to the use of social media in the corporate world, nonprofits, and government. The findings are all available in a free downloadable white paper, "Structuring a Social Media Team.' They surveyed 2,714 respondents online and found that although a lot of people are still figuring out social media, Facebook was by far the most popular platform, with 91 per cent of respondents maintaining a page there. Twitter follows closely, with 88 per cent, while 69 per cent use LinkedIn.

Let us just make up our collective minds about this once and for all. In its current format, through the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn we get to connect with individuals and communities, finding out where they are, what they like and what's on their minds. Right now its use costs us precious little and this is already a win-win as we know that the finances are not as robust as in years gone by and so any way that we can reach out to our publics without having to spend a dollar is a good fix.

Now, when I say I will use social media more effectively, please understand what this means for us all. It means not posting random, meaningless information about our doings that clearly adds no value to anyone's life. So, we do not need to always be constantly in the know about where you are exactly at all times, what you are eating at all times, nor what you are wearing (intend to wear) or would like to wear, on a 24-hour basis. This year think judicious use of your Facebook status. Do not suffocate us with TMI (Too much information), leave us guessing and wanting to learn more about you.

I came across an article on Harvard Business School Working Knowledge website entitled: 'Why we blab our intimate secrets on Facebook?' written by Leslie K. John (December 10, 2012). Their initial findings indicate that individuals are both illogical and careless with their privacy on the web. "We show that people are prone to sharing more information in the very contexts in which it's more dangerous to share," John says. So why aren't most of us more logical and judicious in our approach to Internet privacy? "Broadly, the lesson of this research is that people don't really know how to value their own information," John says. "Because of this uncertainty about what the value of privacy is, people don't know when to value their information or how to care about it. And as a consequence, when people are uncertain, their judgments are often influenced by seemingly arbitrary contextual factors." Well, I am taking a lesson from this for 2013 and promise to be more circumspect.

My other burning resolution is to try to send less e-mails and when I do to spell check the content of my messages more rigorously. There is nothing more embarrassing than re-reading your hastily sent e-mails that are riddled with careless errors, especially the ones that begin on the very friendly and decidedly cheery note, 'Hell Mr Thomas', sans the letter 'o' thus creating a whole new meaning for the suspecting recipient. This year, please God, I vow to spend more time communicating on the telephone or face-to-face because I do believe that if we continue to e-mail and text as much as we currently do we will never ever meet our audience and know them the way we should. The written word does not always bring us closer to those we wish to reach out to, sometimes we actually must, well, reach out physically and touch those with whom we wish to communicate.

Finally I resolve to speak less and listen more carefully before I respond. It is so easy to frame an answer to unasked questions simply because we did not listen keenly enough to the stated and hidden messages. We could spare ourselves and our colleagues so much time if we listened more carefully with our hearts, minds and ears. Here's to a brilliant 2013 - health, wealth and happiness for all.

Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specializing in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: yvonne@rocommunications.com. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.




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